Fill your kitchen with the amazing aroma of a Puerto Rican Pernil. This is a Puerto Rican recipe that is truly worthy of your time. You’ll love how simple is to make this roasted pork that falls off the bone!
If there is one recipe that was always made in my house growing up, it was pernil. We had it on three kings day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and holidays. On Thanksgiving day it was very rare we had a turkey, but we always had pork.
It is cooked slowly to make the pork tender and then you crank up the heat to get a crunchy cuero(skin). It is usually the meat of choice as a party food.
The seasonings can have small variations depending on family traditions. Some people use sofrito to season the pork but I never have.
- Pork shoulder- for this recipe I used a skin on pork shoulder. You can make it without the skin but I highly suggest finding the right pork with the skin on.
- Oil- I used vegetable oil but you can use olive oil or coconut. The oil is essential to make a marinate with all the other ingredients. It helps get the seasoning inside the pork through the cuts we make.
- Garlic- It is always best to use fresh garlic because the flavor will be more intense.
- Seasonings- We use adobo, sasón, salt, and thyme.
- Herbs- I used dried oregano.
What pork cuts can I use?
The best cut of pork used to make pernil is the pork shoulder. But this cut of meat can be found by different names. It can also be labeled as Picnic, Picnic Shoulder, or roast pork.
How to make it
Step 1: Make some holes in your meat. This allows the seasonings to penetrate deeper inside the pork.
Step 2: Mix the oil and seasonings. Season the pork and make sure to put some seasoning in the cuts you made.
Step 3: Transfer the meat to a pan and cover it to seal the moisture in. Then cook for 4 hours in a 200°F oven.
Step 4: After the 4 hours, you want to remove the cover from the pernil and cook for 3 more hours at 350°F, plus more if the skin is not very crunchy.
- While your pork cooks, it will release a lot of juices. Do not throw it away! Strain it and save it for later. You can use it to drizzle on top of the meat to add flavor. It can also be used as stock to make rice with pink beans or gravy. Trust me that stock will taste amazing and it will add flavor to any dish you add it to.
- A tip my mother-in-law gave me is that in the last half hour of cooking the pork, she brushes the top with achiote oil. She said it was for extra crispy skin. I tried it once but I didn’t see any difference in how crispy my skin got but it might be worth a try.
How to store
To store your pernil you can use an airtight container or a freezer bag. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days and 6 months in the freezer.
Frequently asked questions
This depends on what you intend to achieve. If you want meat that falls off the bone then you must cook each pound for at least 1 hour. You can of course cook this in less time. The meat will be nice and juicy it just won’t fall off the bone.
The leftovers are great for making sandwiches like a tripleta or a cubanito. It is very delicious in burritos too.
Sides to serve with pernil
💬 Do you have any questions or comments on this Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe? Leave your questions or comments below and I’ll reply as soon as possible!
Puerto Rican Pernil
- 7 pounds pork shoulder
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons adobo
- 3 teaspoons sazon or 2 packets
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoons ground thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Preheat the oven to 200°F/100°C.
- Mince the garlic and place it in a small bowl. Add the oil, salt, adobo, sazón, thyme, oregano and mix it all together.
- Turn the pork skin down and poke the other side about 4-6 times. Make the cuts deep, where at least half of your finger can fit. Season all the pork with the oil mix. Making sure to introduce some seasoning in all of the cuts made. Transfer the pork to a oven safe dish with a lid. Cover and cook for 4 hours.
- After the 4 hours have passed, turn the oven temperature to 350°F/180°C. Uncover and cook for 3 hours. Serve and Enjoy.
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